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Planners say Christchurch police station redevelopment plans should be approved again

130 homes are planned for the site
130 homes are planned for the site

COUNCILLORS will be asked to approve the redevelopment of the Christchurch police station site when plans are brought before them for a second time next week.

BCP Council’s planning committee first approved the Aster Homes scheme in February, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

But after a threat of legal action, it was agreed the decision would be reviewed to address criticism of the way the application was first considered.

Aster Homes is hoping to win support to build 130 homes, dozens of sheltered accommodation units and other commercial and community facilities on the police station and magistrates’ court site between Bargates and Barrack Road.

Although councillors approved the scheme when they met earlier this year, final planning permission had yet to be given by the time it was threatened with legal action in May.

A judicial review pre-action protocol alleged the decision had been “unlawful”.

It warned that biodiversity policies had not been complied with, that there had been incorrect advice on the effects of an “ecological corridor” planned within the development, and that living space standards for the proposed homes had not been considered.

The council had been due to meet with the people behind the legal challenge but this was cancelled with an agreement to revisit the original decision instead.

Aster Homes submitted revised plans in the summer in a bid to overcome concerns, and these will be considered by councillors on Thursday.

However, the planning committee will again be asked to approve the proposal.

“[It is considered] that the benefits of the scheme significantly and demonstrably outweigh the identified impacts,” said a report by council planning officer Sophie Mawdsley.

“It is clear there are some weaknesses with the scheme in that it does not fully comply with all of Housing Quality Indicators in policy LN1.

“However, a technical failure against this policy is not considered to override the benefits of the scheme.”

It added that the inability of the council to demonstrate it can meet the benchmark of having a five-year supply of land for housing would mean the development would be acceptable even if not fully compliant with policies.

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